Telephone Techniques to Improve Customer Retention
A service advisor’s ability to communicate effectively on the telephone can positively impact the dealership and improve customer retention. According to JD Power & Associates, 74% of all customers that visit a dealership for service call first. Since handling these calls in a professional manner can go a long way in helping service advisors build relationships with customers and improve customer retention, doesn’t it make sense for them to be well versed in telephone techniques?
Here are some telephone techniques service advisors can incorporate into their daily phone calls:
1) Vocal quality and “PACED”
During face-to-face conversation, the actual words you use account for only about 7% of your message’s impact and your vocal quality only accounts for 38%. In face-to-face communication, it is your non-verbal actions that usually have the greatest impact (55%) on your message.
However, when you speak on the telephone, you cannot rely on these non-verbal actions to help convey your message. Instead, you must concentrate on your words and vocal quality, since together, they must account for 100% of your message.
The five characteristics of good vocal quality are known as PACED.
P – Pleasant – Smile and be pleasant; it’ll come across on the phone.
A – Alert – Be alert and have a spark of energy in your voice.
C – Conversational – Use simple language and be natural. Avoid “ahs” and “ums.”
E – Expressive – Vary your tone and rate. Project a sense of confidence, trust and credibility.
D – Distinctive – Be precise in pronunciation. Don’t drop the final consonant or shorten words.
Incorporating PACED into your phone call helps build rapport and connect you personally to the customer.
2) Control your environment
When you are communicating on the phone, minimize noise and distractions before talking on the phone.
Answer the call by the second or third ring, then focus on the caller. A customer can tell if you are not focused on them and may bring it to your attention.
3) Start off on the right foot
Make sure you greet the caller and identify yourself and the dealership. Do not pick up the phone and say, “Service, hold please.” Remember, you want to retain this customer, not turn them away.
Ask for your customer’s name at the beginning of the call – then use it throughout the conversation (ask for spelling if necessary). Names are important to people and make a call more personal, but be professional and polite (not overly familiar), the customer will both appreciate this and respect you for it.
Have a pen and paper handy so you can take notes, if necessary.
If you are taking a message for another service department associate, make sure you ask for the correct spelling of the person’s name and write down the date and time they called. Also, write down a brief message and get a phone number so they can return the call.
4) Ask permission
Ask permission before putting a customer on hold; give them a true estimate of how long they will need to wait. It is always better to under-promise and over-deliver, that way you exceed the customer’s expectation.
When you are calling a customer, ask if it is a good time to talk. Many times we call a customer and go right into our questions or explanations and we don’t find out if it is a convenient time for the customer. If they are driving, they may not be able to write things down.
5) A big finish
Always end your call with a sincere thank you. Tell the customer what you will do next (call and follow-up; meet them when they come in; etc.). Set yourself apart as a true professional; be different than the last service advisor they dealt with.
If improved customer relationships and increased customer retention are the goal of your dealership, then rapport building and good telephone techniques are essential to meeting that goal.